Agoura High School's first annual Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony packed the banquet hall of the on Saturday with family, friends and colleagues of nine inductees honored for their contributions to Agoura High School.
Sentiments of dedication, perseverance and Modesty were echoed throughout the speeches of several presenters, who in a few cases, were also children of the honorees.
“I was lucky to attend in the same four years my dad taught,” Marc Berke’s son, Chris Berke, said as he accepted the plaque on his father’s behalf. Berke died unexpectedly in 2008 at his Thousand Oaks home.
“I only had him once as a teacher. He gave me a D-minus and believe me, it was a mercy D,” Berke said, arousing laughter from the crowd.
Many of the evening’s heart-felt stories were tinged with humor, especially honoree Bryan Dameworth’s introduction by Peter Oviatt, who recalled an LA Times article about the 1989 National Cross Country Champion entitled, “Hunk with a Kick.” Dameworth is now an LAPD officer who owns a running store and volunteers as a coach.
Others travelled a bit farther to receive their accolades. Now a resident of Mammoth Lakes, long-distance runner and Olympic bronze medalist Deena Drossin-Kastor graduated in 1991 from Agoura high, where she was a five-time state champion and was one of an elite few to make National Championships for four consectutive years.
“Getting all the glory is sometimes embarrassing,” Drossin-Kastor said as she accepted her plaque. “Because behind every accomplishment is a group of people.”
Drossin-Kastor, who hopes to be on an Olympic team for a fourth time in the 2012 games, praised the wise words of her former running coach and fellow awards recepient of the evening, Bill Duley.
“One thing he instilled in me is a sense of team,” she said. “And that was the bedrock of a lot of decisions to follow.”
The complete list of recipients honored were:
- Steve Baer, the first Agoura wrestler to make it to the CIF Semi Finals, and subsequently went onto CIF State Championship. After graduating in 1990 he went on to the University of Nebraska to win the 1995 Nebraska All-American Honors, 1995 Nebraska Most Dedicated and the NWCA All Academic Team.
- Marc Berke, a math teacher for 30 years who was well-liked, Berke coached the boys varsity soccer team and led them to two CIF Championships in a row in 1986 and 1987.
- John Crow, who during 27 years at Agoura High, taught health, physical education, Earth science, driver education and training while coaching junior varsity baseball, junior varsity football and junior varsity girls basketball. He earned several honors before going on to become athletic director, including two Frontier League Titles and two Frontier League Coach of the Year honors in 1986 and 1989.
- Bryan Dameworth, who won the National Cross Country Championship in 1989 and received “All Country,” “All State” and “All American” honors in track and cross country all four years of his attendance at Agoura High.
- Deena Drossin-Kastor, a five-time state champion runner and one of few to make it National Championships four years in a row before graduating in 1991. She went onto the University of Arkansas where she was a nine-time All-American and twice was a runner-up for a National Title. After graduating, she made three Olympic teams, winning the bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic games. She hopes to make a fourth team for the 2012 Olympics.
- Bill Duley, who coached both cross country and track and field from 1985 to 2001, is credited with leading numerous student athletes to honors. Prior to 1985, he he coached for the Las Virgenes Track Club, now known as the United Track Club, leading both individuals and teams to secure several CIF and State titles. He also graduated from Agoura High in 1975.
- Frank Greminger, who coached numerous sports from 1969-1990, achieving a CIF title in football in addition to many more titles in several other sports including golf, wrestling and track.
- Robert LaBelle, who taught at Agoura High from 1967-1987 as well as coached varsity baseball, boys’ basketball and boys’ football, helping lead the football team to a CIF title in 1984 and took one of his basketball teams to CIF semi Final.
- Jason Stelle, whose accomplishments as a swimmer at Agoura High include but are not limited to three individual CIF swimming titles, one relay CIF title and numerous records in the 100 yard backstroke. He was also chosen for best Agoura High athlete in his senior year before graduating in 1991.